When learning how to confront your emotions and deal with them in a healthy way, it turns out journaling could be the key, as Jackee Holder discovers…
How often do you find your weekdays consumed with busyness that finds you pushing your feelings away as you drive your way through your week? Rather than muting your emotions, why not use journalling as a way to meet them head on, instead?
Recently, a friend cancelled on me at the last minute. I felt annoyed and, instead of brushing the feeling aside, I asked myself out loud, ‘What are you feeling right now?’ It was in the space between pausing that I got in touch with what I was actually feeling; underneath my annoyance was the murky waters of disappointment.
Can journalling help you confront your emotions?
That’s when I reached for my journal. So, no crisps and no wine. Instead, I took five minutes to write about what was buried underneath my initial response, and what resurfaced was a memory I had long forgotten about…
Uncle Keith was my favourite uncle. I’m nine years old and I’m all dressed up, waiting anxiously by the living room window, anticipating that every approaching car will be the one with my uncle’s friend, arriving to take us children to his wedding reception across town.
But the car never arrives…the disappointment triggered by my friend cancelling was tempered by a disappointment that actually went way back.
Reflecting on the power of journaling
It turned out to be five minutes well spent. Emptying my thoughts onto the page was more liberating than I had anticipated, and what I learnt by the end was that what I had to say on paper no longer needed to be shared out loud.
Once I got out how I was feeling, it took the edge off it, too; it was a form of impulse control and emotional self-regulation.
The irritation I had gotten caught up in evaporated and I found myself having greater capacity to connect with the empathy I had for my friend’s busy schedule. By honouring all of the emotions I was feeling, I was able to recognise that by saying ‘No’ to me, my friend was actually saying ‘Yes’ to herself.
I was now able to accept the situation in a far healthier way. More than anything, the writing – even though short in time – showed me what I wanted to say and led to me feeling clearer about how I felt.
How to confront your emotions
One way of getting better at the language you use to describe your emotions more expansively is to use a simple journal prompt as a way of checking in with yourself. At the top of the page write the prompt, ‘What am I feeling right now?’ Now describe the emotion in as much detail as you can…
Journal prompts to help you confront your emotions:
- What sensations do you feel in your body?
- Where have you felt this emotion in the past?
- What’s the script that’s running in your head?
Then, play with asking the questions in different ways…
- What colour are your emotions?
- What shape are your feelings?
- Which smells come to mind?
Give your feelings space to move through so they don’t get stuck inside you. Put your pen to paper, keep on moving, don’t stop now.
Words: Jackee Holder | Images: Laura Richardson; Shutterstock